Is the Internet a nonchemical addiction?
In today’s tech-intensive world, we invest increasing amounts of ourselves online—our time, our energy, our identities. But for all the time and effort we put into our virtual lives, how much do they really reflect the truth? And, did you know that you can display an almost addiction-like need for being online and on social media?
More here about the side effects internet addicts usually feel when there is no Wi-Fi connection. Continue reading for signs on whether you or a close friend might be hooked. At the end, we welcome your questions in the designated comments section.
The phenomenon of disconnection anxiety
In all probability, what you share on your social networks is reality skewed through the ability to only post the best of yourself, or at least what you believe to be your best. It is because we have so much invested in our online personas – which we seemingly control, at least more so than in real life – that the prospect of disconnecting can feel devastating.
When unable to connect via the Internet, e-mail, social networks, texting, chat, and other online activities, we can go through “disconnect anxiety.” These are some of the feelings experienced:
- Feeling lost
- Having only half a voice
- Getting behind in the flow of information
- Loss of freedom
But, the Internet CREATES anxiety
Paradoxically, we all suffer from plenty of anxiety when we are connected (or doing our best to be). Maybe there’s a slow Internet connection or no connection at all! Maybe we are overwhelmed with a multitude of social networks we’re intent on updating on a daily basis. Or maybe we’re suffering from information overload, struggling to stay on top of every development—from world news to the latest from our Facebook friends’ news stream.
In other words, at any given moment throughout your day, the desire to connect online may be a source of anxiety. Even the conscious decision to voluntarily disconnect can be anxiety ridden, making you certain you’re going to miss something or, worse, that your “friends” and “followers” are going to forget you.
Am I addicted to the internet?
If you suspect you may have an unhealthy level of anxiety associated with your online activity, or lack thereof, consider the following criteria used to determine nonchemical addiction:
1. Importance – How important has it become to your sense of self and the way you live your life? You can determine importance not only by how much you’re doing it but also how much you’re not doing other things. Priority equals importance.
2. Reward Response – Does getting online make you feel better and more in control?
3. Prevalence – Do you find yourself on the Internet more often and for longer periods of time than you originally planned? In order to carve out time, to what else are you taking the knife?
4. Cessation – Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable if you cannot get online or if you just think about not doing it? One way to gauge how important these things have become to you is to consider doing without them.
5. Disruption – Has Internet use disrupted your life and your relationships, causing interpersonal or personal conflicts over what you’re doing?
6. Reverting – Do you often say to yourself you’re going to do something different but then turn around and keep doing the same thing—or doing it even more?
Internet addiction self-help
Take back control and choose the amount of time you spend on the Internet. You choose your activities. Either you allow your activities to carry you along, or you take control of the direction in your life.
How can you achieve this? Examine what you do each day. Make the necessary adjustments that help you sustain optimism, hope, and joy on the inside.
Internet – the nonchemical addiction questions
Do you feel that your need of online connection is ruling your life, you can do something about it. You can post your questions in the section below, and we’ll try to provide a personal and prompt response to all legitimate inquiries, and refer you to someone who can help if necessary.
About the Author: Dr. Gregory Jantz is founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.
Photo credit: Kristina Alexanderson